KBS2 survival show Top Band 2 continues! Episode 14 aired on August 25th and showed some of the Top 8 bands competing to stay around for the Top 6 at Pentaport Rock Festival. KBS offers VOD to anyone with a KBS account if you want to watch the full episode. Daum does not allow video embeds, but if you click the song titles below the full performances are available for viewing.
In addition to myself the Top Band 2 commentary panel consists of Lightinthemind of Korean rock is real, Dahee of Dahee’s Plastic Castle, Sangha of strangeseasons and Fabien of Kimchi Popcorn, Ranya of K-Underground Sweden and Xtian aka drowningn00b. This week we’re happy to be treated to some special performances.
Arriving at Pentaport
Anna: Wow, they found a Pentaport visitor to confess to being a Top Band fan on camera? Maybe it’s not as embarrassing in some circles as it turned out to be in some of mine…
Dahee: Haha, it’s embarrassing to be a Top Band fan? Why?
Anna: Let’s just say many of the people that consider bands sell-outs for going on Top Band don’t think much about those watching the show either. Although I did find some very unexpected closet fans, that while they at first claimed to refuse to watch it on TV eventually owned up to watching most of it on Daum later.
Fabien: As a Korean I think I wouldn’t be following Top Band 2, but as I don’t have many occasions to see these bands live, I selling my soul to this devilish production only to enjoy partially cut performances. There has been so much to complain yet.
Dahee: Yeah, if I were living in Korea, the situation would be a little different. Although maybe I would watch it anyway, because I’m fangirly like that.
Special Stage I: Toxic – “나 어떡해” (Sand Pebbles cover)
Anna: It’s funny how last year’s winner of Top Band is less famous than all but one band in this year’s Top 8. They already performed this song in a similar version back then, but it’s a good one so why not. I’m a bit sad to see that they have toned down their makeup since, Kim Seul Ong looking more like an even more clean cut version of his OK Punk! self than the dark Toxic drummer. I was rooting for Poe till the end that time, but it’s still great to see Toxic again with their sound intact.
Dahee: Finally, a moment in the spotlight for the season one winners! It’s about time. I confess I’m also disappointed by their makeup.
Fabien: Shameful confession time: i didn’t follow Top Band Season 1. You can now throw at me rotten potatoes and pavement.
Dahee: Pssst…Don’t worry. I only watched a handful of episodes from the first season myself.
Special Stage II: Icycider – “배터리” + Axiz – “Why Don’t You Give It Up”
Anna: I wanted to see more! Icycider were always so much fun.
Sangha: I’ll probably forever associate Icycider with their appearance on Super Star K4 now, which is unfortunate…
Ahead of Stages
Anna: It seems again this will be up to the audience who makes it and who doesn’t, with 300 people bussed in particularly for this event. Peterpan Complex’s small group “cheer” led by Jeon Ji Han was so weird. It’s almost like he’s some kind of sect leader…
Dahee: HAHAHAHA! Sect leader, that’s exactly the term for him…XD
Fabien: So only these 300 peoples were allowed to attend this concert? What’s the point of taking part to the Pentaport if the common audience who paid for the festival cannot see them?
Dahee: I think the regular audience COULD see them, they were just roped off into a different section and not allowed to vote. Which must have been a little chaotic, to say the least.
The mission is to perform a famous song. A jury of 20 members can award 200 points total to which the special audience of 300 will add at most 300 points.
Anna: This is nice! Finally a decent chance to get to know the bands. I’m also thrilled to finally get to hear Her Check speak without making his standard annoying stage voice.
Dahee: Yeah, I approve of this focus on the history of the bands. It should’ve been done much sooner, but hey, better late than never, right?
Fabien: But by now people who found interest in these bands must have already looked on Naver about their history, no? Ok, lets be honest, it’s still a nice touch.
“일상으로의 초대” (Shin Hae Chul cover)
Anna: Great song pick! I always preferred Super Kidd’s more ballad-y endeavors so this should be right up my alley. But there’s that one thing I forgot–again I’m missing Zingo’s smooth vocals… For the most part it’s a pretty straightforward cover, but when Her Check can give up singing and instead contribute his usual semi-rap style vocals it does sound like Super Kidd. It could’ve been so good, but although this competition should primarily be a band effort the vocals unfortunately made it a bit difficult
Dahee: Super Kidd continues showing their serious side with this truly lovely arrangement. Seriously, they’re impressing me more and more each time. But, like Anna, the vocals don’t strike me as suiting the arrangement, which is a shame, because it’s beautiful. I love everything about it.
Sangha: I’m not too impressed by Super Kidd’s song selections so far. This is such a hard song to cover. I do understand that they’re trying to show a more serious side to the band, but really, Her Check is not cut out for songs in this range and I felt uncomfortable watching this performance. His range is naturally high, and a mid/low range would have been much better suited for this specific song. Which brings us back to Zingo! We need him back soon. I liked the arrangement, though.
Fabien: For me it’s the same result than when they did 2NE1‘s cover. Good choice of song, and voice that is clearly not fit for it, but i still enjoyed this performance a lot thanks to the excellent arrangement and this strong energy. I like the fact that Super Kidd don’t sit on their well-known name but are still trying to surprise us. Her Check’s rap part was the best part of the song.
Jury Score: 116
Anna: Oh, now we get to see what the individual jury members are scoring too! Possibly very awkward for some of the members of the jury, but it’s good with transparency for the viewers.
Dahee: Yessss, I get to know exactly who to grind my axe for! This should be fun. And awww, what’s with that low score? Some of them actually gave them a 3?? Harsh, man. Harsh.
Kim Se Heon Talks Romantic Punch
Anna: It seems Kim Se Heon of EVE fame is a supporter, calling Romantic Punch a “technical super band”.
“Carnival Amour” (Jaurim cover)
Anna: Excellent pick! It should allow them to really show their flair. With the brass section they’ve managed to add a bit of ska to the arrangement. Bae In Hyuk really gets to show off a wide range of vocal abilities while skipping around the stage and the rest of the members seem to really enjoy themselves as well. Kim Kyung Ho couldn’t look more satisfied. This was so much fun!
Dahee: This was really…interesting. I love this particular Jaurim song, and it strikes me as one that’s difficult to arrange, and Romantic Punch seems to have added as many different takes on it as possible into one arrangement. I actually like the outcome, and like that they took risks and are being so flamboyant and cheeky. Bae In Hyuk is working hard to follow in Kim Yoon Ah‘s vocal footsteps for the song. And I love that fatherly smile on Kim Kyung Ho’s face. Great!
Sangha: This was brilliant! Simply fantastic. Such a great song, and Bae In Hyuk really pulled it off wonderfully. He has a wide range and he used it flawlessly here, particularly loved the change in tones during one of the verses, gah! Perfect usage of the megaphone, that was extremely well done and worked perfectly with the rest of the arrangement.
Fabien: Wow! I had never seen “Carnival Amore” as a good song to cover because of the difficulty to arrange the brass band music and also because of these huge changes in tone. I tried it once in a karaoke and I wasn’t very proud of myself after it. Bae In Hyuk managed to perform it in a magnificent way, without shaking. It sounded different while still keeping Jaurim’s style: silliness and playful.
Jury Score: 149
Anna: Kim Kyung Ho estimated 188 points and though it’s not that high it’s still a good score. One of the jury members even gave them the maximum 10 points! Apparently all but three jury members thought Romantic Punch did better than Super Kidd.
Dahee: Yes, it’s a good score. I think we’ll be seeing the jury favouring upbeat songs over ballads, if only because ballads can easily get lost in such a big venue.
Fabien: The jury seems to be difficult to please, but exigency is a good thing.
Anna: Ooh! I want one of those little Top Band gift bags too! Pia have their own bottled water now? Jeon Ji Han looks too cute when feeding Her Check from his lunch box. Kim Do Kyun offers Transfixion some last minute coaching–always the professional.
Dahee: More fan culture examples. Apparently the Top Band gift bags are from the members of the Top Band dcinside gallery. Now I’m hungry. Aww, Kim Do Kyun is such a sweetie – he says that even if Transfixion gets eliminated, they’ll be happy that another band got through, because they’re all friends here. Awww.
Sangha: Transfixion didn’t seem too please to hear that though…
Dahee: Lol, you’re right!
Anna: Transfixion consider their song for the 2006 soccer world cup in Germany a big turning point. Was that from a more mainstream point of view, I wonder? To me they were always a rock band on a big label rather than a struggling indie band which is why I was perhaps most surprised to find them auditioning for this show.
Dahee: Yeah, it’s definitely from a more mainstream point of view. Sadly, most people only know them for their debut song and their World Cup song…And apparently they left their label due to problems? I had no idea. Not that I keep track of Transfixion’s movements anyway…
Fabien: Only heard of them the first time when Rolling Hall was promoting them all the way back in 2008 but I rapidly lost track of them. I’m not sure if recalling the time when they were famous and also singing for the world cup is really appropriate when competing among less-known bands.
“미인” (Shin Jung Hyun & Yup Juns cover)
Anna: They’ve made a fairly heavy version out of it and I particularly like the brief guitar solo in the middle. I’m not really fond of the performance as a whole though, thinking it more the typical loud rock festival performance that’d made me go see what was happening on the other stages instead.
Dahee: I’m sorry, but I have to say it: My mind was wandering throughout this entire performance. I even got sleepy at one point, and then that shift into harder rock woke me up again momentarily…and then when things quieted down I got sleepy again. They’re trying hard, but the arrangement is, in a word, boring.
Sangha: This was sort of disappointing. Ever since Devin was added to the band the sound has been mind-blowing, the two guitars really do wonders… but I don’t know, their arrangements are always so boring. This performance felt way too long, which is odd because everyone sounded really good.
Fabien: At first I thought it was a very good start, loud and building up for an amazing rockish climax, but I waited, I waited, and then they suddenly finished the song. What, seriously? That was so monotonous…
Jury Score: 120
Anna: When asked the question Kim Do Kyun says he expects 190 points for Transfixion. I found their actual jury score more fair.
Dahee: I don’t understand how they could get a higher score than Super Kidd, I just don’t. Still, it’s a pretty fair score. Transfixion look really disappointed.
History & Styling
Anna: I loved seeing those old photos of them! Top Band 2 really has made an enormous difference for this band so regardless of who actually wins the title, Rose Motel will be the true winners. Celebrity stylist Kim Sung Il approached Rose Motel on Twitter as a self-proclaimed fan, saying he wants to style them. The most outstanding changes are new hairstyles and matching red socks.
Sangha: I’m actually really digging Yook Joong Wan’s new hairdo, it looks so good on him. Handsomeeee.
“골목일” (Shinchon Blues cover)
Anna: They had some problems during the soundcheck, but as soon as they get started I’m already liking this a lot more than the original (which I could never really get into, but still). It’s nice to hear Rose Motel show command over yet another style of music. After a dull performance during the Top 8 qualifications I especially like it when they spice things up with more rock midway and we get to hear some Guckkasten style whining guitar. Yet somehow with their new polished image some of the original charm of Rose Motel is gone.
Dahee: Rose Motel has shown with this performance that they’ve really grown musically over a short period of time. They start out with their usual funny actions, and then the arrangement grows to more of a rock tune. I was impressed with the arrangement, and while I think they could’ve had a tad more fun, and am sad that they had problems with their guitar, this was good. Their future looks bright to me.
Sangha: Even with some technical difficulties, they sounded really good and managed to pull it off! I’m digging the psychedelic guitar parts, very Guckkasten-esque. And the two vocals sound phenomenal. Loved it!
Fabien: Perfect sense of improvisation. Even without the classic guitar, this song has been sounds as if it didn’t miss anything. It’s fun to listen, fun to watch, but they still have high musical qualities. One of them has been acquired during Top Band, as they don’t rely anymore on their funny dances to please the audience.
Jury Score: 144
Anna: Three 10 pointers! Good job!
Dahee: Great score! The jury loves them.
Fabien: Well deserved. The jury has been quite fair until now.
Special Stage III: Super Session – “얘기할 수 없어요” (Love & Peace cover) + “크게 라디오를 켜고” (Sinawe cover)
Anna: I was gonna say this was an unexpected treat, but then Super Session turns out not to be Choi Yi Chul/Ohm In Ho/Ju Chan Kweun but a new Super Session band with Shin Dae Chul playing the guitar, Seoul Electric Band’s Shin Yoon Chul–here dubbed the Jimi Hendrix of Korea–also on guitar, Song Hong Seob of Love & Peace fame on bass, You Young Suk on keyboard and Seoul Electric Band drummer Shin Seok Chul accompanying Kim Kyung Ho. Where is Kim Do Kyun, I wonder? It’s nice to see the three Shin brothers play together, but unfortunately I fail to appreciate this super band just as I’ve never been able to appreciate this particular Love & Peace song. Too bad. I do however like the Sinawe song that for whatever reason was not shown on TV.
Dahee: Yeah, where IS Kim Do Kyun? But OMG how much do I love Kim Kyung Ho? He’s making me lol like a crazy person. His pants are hypnotizing me. His voice doesn’t seem to be in top condition, though? And that guitar solo in the first song by Shin Dae Chul was fierce! I enjoyed these two performances maybe just a little too much. Excuse me, I’m going to go rewatch Kim Kyung Ho gyrating his hips now…
Fabien: I wasn’t really listening to it. Actually I was desperately looking for Kim Do Kyun. It was great to finally having the occasion to judge the ones who fiercely kicked out so many of my favorite bands during the triple tournament. Kim Kyung Ho had fun while performing, as I never saw him before on I Am A Singer.